For business aircraft operators, landing permit, visa and documentation planning needs are at the forefront when trip planning to the Sochi Winter Games. While local services, infrastructure and security are forecast to be good during the games, a little additional pre-planning will go a long way in ensuring the most successful trip possible to the Winter Games venue. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Be mindful of visa and CIQ considerations
Visas must be obtained in advance when flying to Sochi (URSS) and are not possible to obtain on arrival. Note that visas on arrival are available at certain Moscow-area airports and when arriving at Sochi aboard a cruise ship, if your stay is up to 72 hours, and passage was booked via a licensed Russian government company. It’s best to consider multi-entry crew visas for the Winter Games period in order to facilitate aircraft repositioning outside the country if needed. Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance at URSS is via the main terminal or VIP terminal. Sochi’s VIP terminal will expedite the CIQ process, but advance notification is necessary, and there’s an additional cost involved. Onboard CIQ clearance may be arranged in advance at URSS for tech stops, only so long as no crew/passengers are embarking or disembarking. Certain items – including poisonous and radioactive materials, weapons, liquids exceeding 100 ml and magnetized materials – are prohibited from being brought into/out of the country. Properly sealed purchases at duty-free airport shops may be taken onboard the aircraft.
2. Airport slot and Russian landing permit considerations
While URSS does not mandate prior permission required (PPR), airport slots are needed for all arrivals/departures with slot deviations of +/- 15 minutes. Request airport slots as soon as schedule is known and note that slot requirements may become more stringent during the Winter Games. Landing permits are necessary for all aircraft traveling to Russia – with permit validity of +48 hours. Your ground handler must be the entity requesting the landing permit via the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as per Russian CAA regulations. It’s recommended that operators coordinate Russian landing permit requirements and documentation with their 3rd-party provider. Note that route of flight, flight information regions (FIRs) and purpose of flight – as well as complete crew and passenger information – are needed for Russian landing permits. If you’re planning to travel to any Russian domestic airport, be aware that a local navigator is required. Navigator requests need to be made at the time a Russian landing permit is requested, and the navigator must be from Aeroflot.
3. Ground handling and security considerations
There’s only one approved handler at URSS: Jetport. Expect costs here to be somewhat higher than at other airports in Russia and always consider credit arrangements in advance. Jet fuel at URSS is TS-1. There is no Jet A available at this airport. Be sure to check your operations specifications manual before uplifting TS-1 to your aircraft. Best practice is to provide advance notice for jet fuel uplifts and to advise schedule and fuel volume required. Locally available de-icing fluids include Octaflo and MaxFlight. Be aware that there may be de-ice service delays during the Winter Games period, as scheduled commercial carriers will always be given priority.
4. Security considerations
Best practice is to check the security situation, both on and off airport, for any non-familiar international destination you’re operating to. Note that while URSS is a secure airport, additional security can be arranged for aircraft and crew/passengers. With advance notice, it’s possible to arrange armed aircraft security at this location.
Operators to URSS should anticipate high costs as well as aircraft parking and operating restrictions during the Winter Games period. Your 3rd-party provider and ground handler will find options even if you’re planning a short-notice or last-minute operation. Preferred airport, parking and hotel accommodations, however, will be available to operators who begin trip planning as early as practical.